Update: Hospital Sends Mixed Messages on Veteran’s “God Bless America”
Stockton, CA–A hospital that has come under fire for censoring a veteran’s use of “God Bless America” has now issued a response that the veteran’s attorneys are calling muddled at best.
Earlier this week, Pacific Justice Institute announced that it is representing Boots Hawks, a 20-year retired veteran of the U.S. Army who now works for Dameron Hospital in Stockton. Last week, supervisors ordered Mr. Hawks to stop using “God Bless America” as one of three quotes below his e-mail signature. Mr. Hawks reluctantly complied with the directive but was placed on two days of administrative leave for insubordination after he mentioned that he would seek legal advice.
Following PJI’s announcement, which sparked a number of press inquiries to the hospital, management sought to further clarify their position on Mr. Hawks. In doing so, they retreated on the reasons for their actions, while continuing to insist that “God Bless America” be banished from e-mails. A Dameron human resources official noted that they no longer considered Mr. Hawks to have been insubordinate, while leaving open the possibility that he may have been disruptive and disrespectful. The hospital also agreed to restore his pay for the two days he was placed on administrative leave, while awkwardly insisting that administrative leave implied no punishment and carried no stigma. The hospital continues to insist that Mr. Hawks refrain from including “God Bless America” at the bottom of his e-mails.
Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, stated, “We view the hospital’s response as a retreat from some of their earlier positions, but clearly they have a long way to go toward making this right. We will continue to press for fair and equal treatment of Mr. Hawks’ speech. No one—least of all a veteran—should be censored for fear that someone will be offended by their patriotism.”
Pacific Justice Institute is a non-profit legal organization dedicated to defending religious, parental, and other constitutional rights.
P.O. Box 276600 Sacramento, CA 95827-6600
Phone: (916) 857-6900 Fax: (916) 857-6902